"The Post-Costitutional Election: Part 22" is here.
Watching the GOP convention boo Ted Cruz off the stage last night for failing to endorse Donald Trump was transfixing spectacle for all of the reasons that hundreds of delegates gave voice to. These begin with Cruz's solemn pledge on that same stage last summer to support the eventual GOP nominee, and end in the ghastly specter of a Hillary Clinton administration, whose first 100 days, she has vowed, would include amnesty for twenty, thirty million illegal aliens -- just the beginning of Endgame, USA.
Richard Viguerie says it all in a piece excoriating Cruz under the headline "Ted Cruz Committed Suicide on National Television."
Little wonder, then, that it was a strange speech, circling an endorsement that never came in an act of rhetorical contortion, which, most unnervingly, used as its point of departure and return a grieving Texas child named Caroline with a mother named Heidi whose father was not Ted Cruz but one of five Dallas policemen murdered earlier this month.
The little girl's heart-rending memory, which will haunt her forever, was that of her policeman-father, on leaving for work on the last day of his life, asking her what it would be like if that were to be the last time she would ever kiss and hug him.
Cruz took this tragic story of incurable loss and twisted it thus:
What if this, right now, is our last time? Our last moment to do something for our families and our country?
Did we live up to our values? Did we do all we could?
That’s really what elections should be about. That’s why you and millions like you devoted so much time and sacrifice to this campaign.
We’re fighting, not for one particular candidate or one campaign, but because each of us wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids, our own Carolines, that we did our best for their future, and for our country.
Our own Carolines. For shame. Ted Cruz took this darkest human tragedy and puffed it full of political hot air in the belief that it would lift his rhetoric to some height of imagined impressiveness. His gross miscalculation would have been merely banal if the reality he saw fit to generalize into a prop were not so deeply painful.
Here's how he brought it home, as the delegates roared for Trump.
And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.
Newt Gingrich, later addressing the convention, would zing Cruz by noting that since Trump was the one presidential candidate in the race who would uphold the Constitution, Cruz had just endorsed the Trump-Pence ticket, but the damage was done -- to Cruz.
He went on, defaulting to the well-worn lines of his stump speech, right down to his father's skivvies.
It’s love of freedom that has allowed millions to achieve their dreams. Like my Mom, the first in her family to go to college, and my Dad, who fled prison and torture in Cuba, coming to Texas with just $100 sewn into his underwear.
The booing was intense by now.
And it is love that I hope will bring comfort to a grieving 9-year-old girl in Dallas – and, God willing, propel her to move forward, and dream, and soar . . . and make her daddy proud.
This final invocation of the poor child Cruz had used to kick off his speech came off as if he were now reaching for a human shield.
We must make the most of our moment – to fight for freedom, to protect our God-given rights, even of those with whom we don’t agree, so that when we are old and gray . . . and our work is done . . . and we give those we love one final kiss goodbye . . . we will be able to say, “Freedom matters, and I was part of something beautiful.”
The callousness is epic, the tone-deafness, staggering. It is something to look away from, quickly.
Cruz thanked the delegates, asked God to bless America, and walked into the annals of political exploitation, and, per Viguerie, self-destruction.
The news story remains Cruz's decision not to endorse Trump. What is important to remember is that Cruz has thus removed himself from the epic battle to elect Donald Trump, defeat Hillary Clinton, and make America at least viable again, which would be great.
But something else was on view on that convention stage last night: hot Washington ambition unable to see an excruciating human loss as something other than a political prop.
This will not be forgotten.